Sunday, June 13, 2010

Farmer's Markets

Today I visited my local farmer's market looking for fruit. Naturally, I ended up with much more than that, which inevitably happens when I go. It started innocently enough: "Oh, I need onions". Then, "Wow, look at those green beans". Then, "Mmmh, that squash is unusual - think I'll try it". Pretty soon I had two canvas shopping bags brimming with all sorts of stuff. What can I say: farmer's markets are intoxicating to me. I can't pass up fresh vegetables - I am addicted to them - so it's good that there is a farmer's market nearly every day of the week somewhere in my county.

I highly recommend seeking one out and going on a regular basis if you're not already doing so. Not only will  you support your local growers, who are being squeezed by corporate farming in this country, but you are more likely to eat "locally", which means that your food has not travelled great distances to get to you, adding to pollution and our dependence on fossil fuel.

Supermarkets might be convenient, but there are downsides. They are not typically buying the majority of their produce locally and since they have so many stores and buy in such volume, imagine all the trucking going on! Fortunately there are more signs up in the produce departments of the supermarkets I've visited that say "Grown Locally", but it's usually a small section, not the bulk of what they have out, which means that what they're buying has been shipped from all over.

So, why does so much produce come from areas that are not local to us? We aren't we eating what's in season where we live? I think there's something exciting about anxiously awaiting a fruit to come back into season. For instance, when I went on Sunday I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of all the stone fruit: plums and nectarines for example (which ended up in my bag). And I personally don't want pumpkins at any time other than in the fall. I can wait!

Another reason to love farmer's markets is that many of the farmers, though they may not have received organic certification, do not use pesticides and toxic chemicals. Just ask.

Lastly, the supermarket is simply not as fun as going to the farmer's market. There you are, outside in the fresh air and sunshine, meeting the growers, asking them questions about their produce, like how to prepare something you haven't tried before. That's what intrigues me the most about farmer's markets: feeling a personal connection with the people that are growing the food I eat.  You're not gonna get THAT from your supermarket!

For a list of Farmer's Markets in Southern California, I've included a link for you to find one. For Orange County, try this:

So, get out there and buy something fresh, preferably organic and in season, local to your area, support your regional farmers, and most of all, have fun!

For the recipe of the Green Bean and Fingerling Potato recipe I created from the well, green beans and fingerling potatoes I bought at the farmer's market on Sunday, click on the Recipes page. Let me know if you prepared it and how you liked it.

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